Sunday, April 25, 2010

Principles of Discipline, #1

In the next few weeks we will review the important principles of good discipline and renew our efforts to discipline wisely. All the information is from a tried and true article called the ‘Seven Principles of Good Discipline.’ We will start with the first principle of good discipline.

Tell children what they can do instead of what they can’t do. Focus on do, not don’t. If our language is overloaded with negative words (no, don’t, stop it, quit it, cut it out, shut up), our children may decide we are not very interesting to listen to and tune us out. When children hear many, many negative words, the meaning of those words is weakened. This may lead to a situation in which we really need a child to hear and obey us, but like the people in the story of the boy who cried "wolf" too often, the child ignores or disobeys us. If a 2 1/2-year-old hears "don’t touch the cup, the coffee table, the flowers, the dress, the radio, and the stove" she may decide it is dangerous to touch anything and become passive and uninterested in learning. She may decide that adults just say no. She will try to touch as many things as she can before they get really mad. However at age 2 1/2, she does not know that the "NO" about the cup that is full of steaming coffee and the stove are more important than the "no" about the flowers. If her parents restrict their use of strong negative words to critical situations of great importance, she is more likely to hear and respect the words they use.

Here is an exercise to help us practice changing don’t to do. See if you can catch yourself before you speak and focus on the behavior you want to see.
Don’t throw the bread. (Put your bread on your plate)
Quit hitting your sister. (Tell him what you want)
Don’t pour your milk on the floor. (?)
Don’t talk with your mouth full. (?)
Don’t play with your food. (?)

Next week we will focus on the second principle of good discipline, Protect and preserve children’s feelings that they are lovable and capable.

Toad House Publishing

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